I Was Thinking... The Best Laid Plans
There is probably no season that is fret with more plans than Christmas. It starts even before Thanksgiving and continues through the new year. Cards and letters to write, gifts to buy, decorations to put up, meals to plan and schedules to arrange. The idea is to plan your way into the perfect holiday. In our attempt to make things just right, stress levels rise higher than for any other holiday. But each year we continue trying to arrange for the ideal Hallmark family celebration despite less than perfect results in the past.
I admit, I am a planner. Somehow, I feel that if I plan things out, I’ll be in control. When we take a trip, I want to plan out the route. Getting lost and not knowing which way to go is the very opposite of being in control. Planning is my security blanket.
So as Christmas approached, both my wife and I had plans. Our daughter and son-in-law from Bemidji were to come down after work on Thursday. That would give us a couple days to bake cookies, go snowshoeing and visit friends before the big day. My wife’s sister from Iowa was going to come up to see us and her nieces as well.
Well, that was the plan. But if you remember, those were also the days DOT advised no travel because of blizzard conditions with high winds, cold and blowing snow. So much for planning.
When our daughter and son-in-law arrived on Saturday, our plan to go to the 5 p.m. Christmas Eve service didn’t work since the road conditions had turned a normally 5-hour trip into 6 ½ hours. Our other daughter and dog came out and our immediate family were all together for supper.
But as my head started to fill up and I started to sneeze, the decision was made not to go to the 8 p.m. service but instead watch the earlier service on TV. Besides, no one really wanted to go back out into the cold. Sleeping arrangements were made and everyone settled in for the night.
Christmas morning was bright and cold, and I woke to a full-fledged winter cold. Or at least I thought so. But after being persuaded to take a Covid test, everything changed again. POSITIVE.
With five people and a dog, there is only so much social distancing available in our house. I ate my breakfast and dinner in a separate room and wore a mask but wondered if I’d already infected other family members. Things were not going as planned.
Our kids headed back home but on Tuesday my daughter in Rochester let us know she had come down with it as well. So far, my wife and the Bemidji family had been spared. But the plan for my wife and I was to leave on Dec. 30th for a trip to California and the Rose Bowl Parade. Something we had been planning for since October. The only good thing was we “had planned” by taking out trip insurance, so when we cancelled, we could get our money back.
If you have followed the news at all over the holidays, you know my family isn’t the only one whose plans didn’t work out as expected. Snowstorms, frigid temperatures, and flight cancellations have disrupted the plans for millions across the country. As much as we try to control our lives, it rarely works out as we plan. But that shouldn’t be a surprise especially concerning Christmas.
Think of the first Christmas. When Joseph and Mary got engaged, neither had planned for a very unexpected pregnancy. Their plans hadn’t included a required long journey on foot. Delivering the new baby in a barn among animals hadn’t been in their plans. Being forced to leave their own country for a couple years to protect the life of their son wasn’t planned for either. But somehow this was all a part of a much bigger plan.
So, when we get frustrated that “our” carefully laid out plans didn’t work out as “we” expected, maybe we just need to step back and look for a larger plan.
Did You Ever Wonder? — Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?
Photo: I was thinking Ron Albright